This is a question I get often from my clients. In terms of how nutrition relates to fitness, there really isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. The simplistic answer would be a proper ratio of protein and carbs, personalized to your specific needs.
If you are hitting the gym four or more times a week, your other meals are in check, you aren't super stressed, and you're sleeping well, etc - then let's look into post-workout nutrition. Of course, if you are having troubles with the things I just mentioned, then you may want to start there first and hiring a coach who cares about your well-being is step one.
For those of you who are doing pretty well, here are two things to consider when it comes to a post-workout meal:
1. How long and hard was your workout?
Workout nutrition becomes very important if you are working out at a 7/10 or higher in perceived exertion and also a 7/10 in workouts length. For example, if you had a 25 minute jog which made you kind of sweaty, you should probably just stick to your regular next meal.
If you had an extreme weight lifting session, attended my High Voltage Class, or ran hill sprints you will want to make sure your body gets the protein and carbs it needs quickly after you complete your workout in order to replenish energy stores and optimize recovery.
2. What are your goals?
If you are looking to lean down, you are going to want to focus on a lower carbohydrate intake while ensuring you consume good quality protein post-workout. Eating for fat loss puts you into a caloric deficit, which isn't always optimal for recovery. You may find your workouts sluggish as a result, but by ensuring you are getting good quality foods in at all meals and focusing on proper post-workout nourishment, you should see body composition changes while still feeling good in your workouts.
If you are looking to gain muscle while having optimal recovery and body composition isn't a concern, then you are able to consumer more carbs. This could range from a liquid carbohydrate supplement with a protein shake post-workout, or eating a good quality source of carbohydrates such as sweet potato with protein-packed eggs when you get home.
It is important to keep in mind that everyone is different. Though this advice is science-based and also based on the experience of what I have seen with my own clients, the best way to see what works for you - is to try it!
Here are some options for post-workout meals:
- protein powder and fruit - shake it up!
- protein powder and oats (pancakes!)
- eggs and sweet potato
- toast and eggs
- toast and peanut butter with sliced banana
- apple and hard boiled eggs
- cottage cheese and fruit
- Greek yogurt and oats
Again, I have to emphasize that everything is very individualized when it come to nutrition. Find some good quality carbs and proteins that you think you might want to try out, track what and when you've eaten, and see how your body feels! Not sure where to begin - I offer free initial consults for both nutrition and fitness coaching - sign up here.